With a Jan. 22 application deadline approaching, Mancos officials have vowed its next town marshal will be subjected to a thorough background check.
Former Marshal John Cox, who resigned last month after a DUI arrest, was never fully vetted when hired as a deputy marshal in 2012. He was promoted to marshal the following year.
Tapped as town administrator after Cox’s initial employment date, Andrea Phillips said it was eye-opening to learn that the town’s top lawman was hired without a criminal background check. An Internet search revealed that Cox received a 2009 DUI conviction while a police officer in Indiana.
“I was surprised that there was no background done on (Cox),” said Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane.
Lane and Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said they have both offered detectives from their respective agencies to assist with the hiring of the next town marshal in Mancos. With an annual salary range between $58,000 and $64,000, the deadline to apply for the position is Jan. 22.
“I would love to have the position filled by March,” Phillips said, adding candidates would be exposed to a full background check and an oral board interview.
In addition to a new marshal, Mancos is advertising to hire another deputy marshal position as well. The salary range for the deputy marshal position is $43,000 to $48,000.
“We have revamped the law enforcement job application to be much more in-depth,” Phillips said. “It includes a signed release form to allow the town to do a full investigation of their background.”
“We will definitely conduct a thorough investigation,” she added.
Phillips commitment to evaluate future law enforcement candidates falls in line with new recommendations from the Colorado Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) board. Last week, the board introduced three new reforms, including a requirement that law enforcement agencies conduct comprehensive background checks on potential officers. Before the mandate, the decision to examine a candidate’s criminal 6B was left to agency discretion.
Taking office as county sheriff a year ago, Nowlin said he supported the POST mandate, stating he welcomed any effort aimed to strengthen law enforcement.
“Our criminal background check is more extensive than ever before,” Nowlin said.
In a joint interview with The Journal, Lane was also supportive of the board’s new rule, stating his agency had long practiced the protocol.
“We’ve been doing this for several years now,” Lane said.
“It benefits all of us,” Nowlin interrupted.
“We want the next Mancos marshal to be top-notch, because when the headline reads ‘police,’ then we’re all scrutinized,” Lane said.
In addition to uniform background checks, POST board officials have also amended rules that require more frequent psychological and physical evaluations of officers when transferring to new law enforcement agencies as well as closing a loophole that allows officers to work despite having a felony deferred judgment on their record.
Charged in November with DUI after hitting a guardrail on U.S. 160, Cox’s initial appearance on the misdemeanor traffic offense before a La Plata County judge is set for Wednesday, Jan. 6.
In addition to the La Plata County DUI charge, Cox also faces six misdemeanor charges in Montezuma County from separate incidents that occurred in August and September. A Colorado Bureau of Investigations probe alleges that Cox conducted an improper investigation on a romantic rival and fabricated a speeding ticket. The date for Cox’s initial appearance before a Montezuma County judge remains unknown.
On Nov. 4, Mancos officials placed Cox on paid administrative leave. He resigned as marshal on Nov. 16.